ARC Review – Of Trust and Betrayal

Witch King by Martha Wells

Publication Date: May 30, 2023

Summary from NetGalley:

Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

ARC provided by Tor Publishing via NetGalley for an honest review.


Martha Wells has the uncanny knack of developing worlds that are so different from our own, but yet seem similar enough that we can fall in love with this new world and the characters that inhabit them in just a few pages. With Witch King you hit the ground running and don’t stop until the end. There was so much to love about this book, but I did have one tiny little issue.

I loved the characters, all of them. This is nice little band that comes together to help Kai solve the mystery of why he was killed and who was behind it. Kai especially won over my heart quite quickly from the start of the story. He just has a manner about him, that makes you trust and like him immediately. I also really liked Ziede, his witch friend, who always has his back, just like he always has hers. Even though the story is told from Kai’s point of view, I really felt that we got to know the other characters quite well.

The magical system was fascinating and well thought out. The best thing about Well’s writing style is that she shows you how it works rather than tells you. There is no info dumping here. It might make things confusing at first, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

The world building was marvelous. This world does sound very similar to ours with all of the political shenanigans and constant fighting between nations. But there are a lot of differences as well. You learn about this world’s different cultures through the people who belong to them which is wonderful. The writing is also superbly done with the pacing being mostly fast paced, there was a slow section in the middle, and does a great job of exploring the themes of betrayal, loyalty, friendship and grief.

My one small issue, and I think this is entirely on me, was the dual timeline. I usually don’t mind them, but this time it felt a bit cumbersome and at times confusing. But I think I might be in the minority here, like I said it was just a me thing this time.

This is a standalone, but there is certainly room for this world to be expanded upon. There were a few unanswered questions at the end of the book that makes me hopeful that the story will continue at some point.


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